Think And Do

8 Limbs of Yoga

In Western culture, we think of Yoga as a system devoted to physical fitness, a limber and youthful body, and a seemingly uncanny ability to stretch our muscles.
While this impression is true, it is not complete.

Yoga is an entire philosophy, the foundations of which were recorded sometime in the 3rd century A.D. by Patanjali, a sage and spiritual leader.
Patanjali defined Yoga ideologies via a series of threads, or Sutras, which are the basis for years of study and contemplation.
These threads reveal philosophies that extend far beyond the physical body.
The physical body is only one of the components of this magnificent body of knowledge.

Historically, Yoga began with a seeking – an exploration of self in order to achieve a higher consciousness – a connection with a universal energy that permeates all living and non-living elements in the cosmos.
Many cultures have a specific name for this energy:
  • Sanskrit - Prana
  • Chinese - Chi
  • Greek - Pneuma
Early Yogis (practitioners of Yoga) sought to meditate – to empty their minds and free their emotions in order to find their place in this energy.
But they began to learn that the practice of meditation was no simple matter.
It involved the doing of Nothing – and the absence of any motion –
the dismissal of hunger and personal physiological necessities – and above all, the quieting of the mind.

They began to place themselves into postures – Asanas –
out of the ordinary positions that necessitated their full attention, thereby emptying their minds of more frivolous thoughts.
This significantly assisted the practice of meditation.
From meditation, thoughts and realizations once again emerged, only more purely, cleanly, and with intent and purpose.

Yoga philosophy requires focus and concentration – whether it is in the physical practice, the breathing practice, or the spiritual practice.
Students of Yoga cannot study effectively without devoted attention to the present moment, and all that it holds.

Yoga is a study of ourselves, our relationship to one another, and our relationship to the cosmos.
This universal consciousness has been identified in many cultures throughout Man’s history.
The most common link between Yoga and any other philosophy is the connection to Taoist principles that are elucidated by the philosopher Lao Tse.
In addition, American Indians are known for this deep awareness and respect for Earth and the Universe, and observe rituals to this day that celebrate that respect.

Read more on the 8 Limbs of Yoga here.